UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
S.V. JOYAL

Pharmaceutical Solutions to Situations Rapidly Unraveling


Antonin Artaud
You speak in fragmented sentences when a nine millimeter Glock is pressed against your neck.

Alize, her belly six months' swollen, her past a blur of men with bandanas and long hours in the mountains chewing coca leaves, picking coca leaves, she drips sweat on your neck from holding the Glock trigger tight, her butt hand against the car seat back. The big block hemispherical engine twitches like a junky needing the next hit, the car cutting through the humidity of the South Florida night, the air a thick invisible wall that you can smell but can't quite touch.

Alize slurs your name, "Javier," and she mumbles "Slow down - we'll get pulled over." She shifts her weight to the butt end of her hand holding the Glock, more pressure against your neck, and you feel your heart pound in sync with your head. Your mind sparks thoughts that are crack-powered fast, and you squeeze air into your lungs between the poundings in your head.

You think about bumblebee yellow Nembutal, barbiturate chill in a bottle, a pharmaceutical solution to a situation rapidly unraveling.

"Two more exits." you say above the rumble of the engine.

"Don't talk - drive," Alize's every word staining your soul, or at least what's left of it to stain, her grip ever tighter on the Glock.

"We need," you mumble, your voice feeling hollow and blunt, like a special-made bullet bent on destruction, crafted to explode little metal fragments for a skull's soft insides.

"What she sees in you I have no fucking clue," Alize says, "Somebody should just put you out of your own misery, I swear to Christ."

You think about patriotic blue and red-striped Tuinal sprinkles, barbiturate chill in a bottle, a pharmaceutical solution to a situation rapidly unraveling.

"Javier - take the Sample road exit coming up. We need to stop at the red house."

Your fingertips feel little cracks and crevices of asphalt transmitted from the road to the rubber to the steering wheel, and you heel-and-toe downshift from fifth gear to third as you veer through sparse traffic to the freeway off-ramp. The needle on the fuel gauge reads low, you need gas soon.

"Say goodbye, little fucker," she says with an unbalanced laugh. You see a quick flash of light followed by crack pipe flying out the window into the sticky South Florida night. You hear the musical sound it makes as it hits the asphalt, you imagine the sad little sound of glass breaking, you can't decide.

Alize moves closer to you, sliding along worn leather seats soaked with South Florida sweat. She smells like used bed sheets from the free clinic.

"This isn't personal," her words barely audible above the big block engine rumble, her oily black hair brushing against your three-day old stubble, "I know you probably think it is, but it isn't. Just get me where I fucking need to go."

Alize takes the gun away from your neck and stabs it under your belt, between your legs so hard that you cough the doctor's cough when you get checked for a hernia. Your eyes flash quickly to her arm, little tracks like rivers of broken dreams in the crook of her elbow, and you get semi-hard.

"Javier, I'll make this worth your while, I swear," and you can't speak, your breath is swallowed away, little electric sparks running up and down your thighs.

You think about firefly red Seconal chasers, barbiturate chill in a bottle, a pharmaceutical solution to a situation rapidly unraveling.

You pull into the crumpled asphalt driveway of the red house off Sample. You park the car and kill the engine, and there's a moment of silence like the fragment of time between deciding to pull a trigger and an explosion of a gun. Alize slurs "I'll be back in ten minutes, fucker," her hand choked around your police-issue Glock nine millimeter, your wrists clamped tight to the cool aluminum cuffs snaked around the steering wheel.

You watch your sister-in-law, her six month's full belly bouncing with your baby, an abortion waiting to happen, as she slips inside the door of the red house, no key required.

You think about tranquil blue Amytal, barbiturate chill in a bottle, a pharmaceutical solution to a situation rapidly unraveling.


The author's beaten one addiction but he's considering taking up another one and increasing the probability that he'll hit rock-bottom faster. MTV raised him to believe he'd live a music video kind of life, and he's slowly realizing this won't happen. During his last job interview he was asked the psycho-babble question about the kind of tree you'd be (if you could be a tree, of course, the interviewer said with a smug smile and collagen-primed lips), and he said he'd be a sanded-oak 1950s capital punishment paddle. He didn't get the job.







2007 Underground Voices